Aerial photography is one of the most popular ways to start a drone business. It does not require a huge amount of investment and if you are willing to learn some basic photography skills, it can be a good way to earn some extra money. One area of drone photography that is gaining in popularity is in real estate. Aerial photography is a great way to highlight different property details and provide estate agents with an edge when it comes to closing a sale. In this article, we will explore some of the best drones for real estate photography and delve into their key features and see what they can do for your photography business.
Register Your Drone
Something to remember before you purchase any kind of drone for commercial use and that is you will need to register it get permission to fly the drone. There are certain requirements you will have to meet before you can start to offer your drone photography/videography services. Each country has their own rules and regulations, so before you commit to any kind of job, make sure you familiarise yourself with your local rules and regulations so that you comply with the law and minimise any legal and financial risk to your company.
If you are looking to start a drone business or make some part-time money with drones, you will need to register your drone and depending on where you live, you may also need to pass an exam.
In the USA, you will be required to take and pass the FAA Part 107 certificate, it is a 2-hour exam that will require you to obtain at least 70% to pass from a total of 60 questions.
It can be a tough exam, especially if you gave no prior knowledge of aviation rules and regulations. However, there are a lot of good prep courses that can enhance your prospects of passing the first time.
One of the best rated is from Pilot Institute, they are a well-established company that specialises in providing online and in-person training courses for drone and aeroplane pilots.
Their Part 107 course is highly rated and has some fantastic reviews from current and former students.
The Pilot Institute Part 107 course has a 99% success rate, and they offer a money-back guarantee should you not pass. Currently, they are offering a bundle deal with their Part 107 course and their new Drone Business course.
For those living in the UK, you will be required to obtain a Flyer ID and Operator ID from the CAA, the Flyer ID will require you to pass an online exam.
However, you may also need to obtain the A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC) or the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC). Which certificate you need will depend on the weight of your drone and the level of risk involved in your drone missions.
For more details, please check out the CAA website and what is required to fly drones for commercial purposes.
What Is The Best Drone For Real Estate Photography?
There are a lot of candidates and below I have listed what I believe to be the best drones for real estate photography.
My personal favourite is the DJI Air 2S, its fantastic drone that comes with an amazing camera and some spectacular features. It’s also a great drone for photography in general, so if you decide to expand your drone photography business into other areas, the Air 2S will be more than capable of shooting high-quality images and videos.
However, based on pure technical features, it is not the best drone on this list, that crown goes to the new DJI Mavic 3, which is a stunning drone and great for aerial cinematography.
If you are not looking to expand beyond real estate photography, then a relatively cheap drone like the DJI Mini 2 will be more than good enough for this purpose.
Best Drones For Real Estate Photography
1. DJI Mavic 3
The latest drone in the Mavic range, the DJI Mavic 3 is one of the most powerful compact drones on the market and it comes equipped with a range of features that puts it well ahead of its competitors. The Mavic 3 comes with a foldable design and has a take-of weight of 895g, although the Cine version is slightly heavier because of its internal 1TB SSD card. One of the most powerful features of this drone is its dual-camera system, the main camera comes with a micro 4/3-inch sensor that has been engineered by Hasselblad. The secondary camera is a telephoto camera that has a 1/2-inch sensor and can capture 12MP images and 4k video footage. The main feature of the telephoto camera is its 28× zoom which will let you get up close to your subject matter with minimal loss in quality.
The main camera comes with some impressive features, its large 4/3” sensor can capture amazing 20MP images. It has 12.8 stops of dynamic range that will allow photographers to capture greater details in highlights and shadows.
The camera comes with Hasselblad’s patented natural colour technology that will help reproduce rich natural colours in every shot and it comes with 10-bit D-log colour profile for HDR videos.
For videos, the camera can record in 5.1k at 50fps, 4K at 120fps with a maximum bitrate of 200Mbps and with the Cine version, it’s able to record in Apple ProRes 422 HQ.
It comes with multiple photography modes and has intelligent video capturing modes with its Mastershots and Quickshot feature. There is also a cool Hyperlapse feature that will allow you to create time-lapse videos with different autonomous flight modes.
The drone comes with multiple safety features including DJI’s upgraded APAS 5.0, omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system and a more sophisticated return to home function.
Along with an industry leading flight time of 46 minutes and 15km transmission range, this is the ultimate drone for photography and videography.
2. DJI Air 2S
My personal favourite, the DJI Air 2S is an incredible drone especially with its lightweight, compact design and the features it comes with. This is the perfect drone for real estate photography, it weighs less than 600g, if you are a professional photographer who likes to use public transport, this drone will not be a burden.
The Air 2S is a stunning drone that comes equipped with many of DJI’s innovative features. It is currently the only consumer drone that costs less than $1000 to come with a camera that has a 1-inch sensor.
The camera has a 22mm lens with a fixed f/2.8 aperture and 88° FOV and can capture 20MP images in RAW and JPEG formats.
There are multiple photography modes including HDR panorama, burst AEB and timed as well as a new intelligent mode called SmartPhoto mode.
SmartPhoto mode will allow anyone to capture HDR images at the click of a button and uses hyperlight and scene recognition to optimise images even in low-light environments.
There are a couple of easy video recording modes called Mastershots and Quickshots and it can also record time-lapse videos via the hyperlapse feature.
Videos are recorded in 5.4k at 30fps, 4k UHD at 60fps, 2.7k at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps. The maximum recording speed is 150Mbps and videos can be recorded in H.264 and H.265 formats. Intelligent features the Air 2S comes with include APAS 4.0, autonomous flight modes, automatic return to home and 4-way obstacle avoidance system.
The Air 2S uses DJI’s latest OcuSync 3.0 transmission system for a maximum range of 12km and comes with ADS-B receiver that will warn pilots of any nearby aircraft.
A stunning drone with features that will impress both amateur and professional photographers.
3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The first DJI drone to have the camera engineered by Hasselblad, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro remains one of the best drones for photography. The drone maintains the classic Mavic look, it has a foldable compact design with a dark grey colour scheme. The weighs just over 900g, so not very heavy and it comes with many advanced features. The camera has a 1-inch sensor, the first foldable drone to come with such a big sensor and has a variable f/2.8-f/11 aperture with a 77° FOV.
The camera is stabilised by a 3-axis gimbal and comes with Hasselblad’s patented natural colour technology for better colour accuracy. Images are captured in 20MP in both RAW and JPEG formats and there are multiple photography modes including AEB, interval, burst and panorama.
Videos are recorded n 4k at 30fps, 2.7k at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps in both H.264 and H.265 formats. The camera can record HDR videos thanks to its 10-bit Dlog-M colour profile and can record HD time-lapse videos.
Other features includes intelligent flight modes that includes Active Track, POI, and Way Point modes. It also comes with an automatic return to home feature and an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system.
The Mavic 2 Pro comes with OcuSync 2.0 for a transmission range of 8km and a maximum flight time of 31 minutes.
4. Autel Evo 2 Pro
One of Autel Robotics flagship drones, the Evo 2 Pro is a direct competitor to DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro and comes with many similar features. One feature that stands out is the drone’s bright orange colour, although I am not a fan, the bright colour will help you track the drone better and always have it in visual light of sight. The Evo 2 Pro is a little on the heavier side for a foldable drone weighing just over 1.1kg.
The standout feature is the camera which comes with a 1-inch CMOS sensor, variable aperture and 82° FOV.The camera is stabilised by a 3-axis gimbal and captures amazing 20MP images in both JPEG and RAW formats.
For videos, the camera can record in 5.4k at 30fps, 4k at 60fps, 2.7k at 120fps and 1080p at 120fps. It has a maximum recording speed of 120Mbps and records both H.264 and H.265 codecs. Videos can be recorded in HDR with its 10-bit A-log colour profile
The drone has one of the most advanced obstacle avoidance systems with 12 sensors all around its body which is an excellent feature that will minimise the risk of the drone crashing into something.
Other intelligent features include gesture control that will allow you to capture images and videos through hand gestures, viewpoint that allows the drone to fly autonomously by tapping anywhere on the app and an automatic return to home feature.
It has an enhanced transmission range of 9km and 40 minutes of flight time which is one of the longest for a consumer drone.
5. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Although the camera on the Mavic 2 Zoom is not as good as the Mavic 2 Pro version, it still is more than good enough for professional drone photography. The Mavic 2 Zoom sports a 1/2.3-inch sensor with 24-48mm zoom lens, variable aperture, and 83°- 48° FOV. It captures 12MP images in both RAW and JPEG formats and has a super resolution feature that allows it to capture multiple images and stitch them together for a 48MP image.
The camera comes with 4× lossless zoom which includes 2× optical zoom when recording HD videos. Allowing you to get up and close to your subject matter without having to move the drone and compromising on quality.
It can record video footage in 4k at 30fps, 2.7k at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps and supports recording in both H.264 & H.265 codecs. It has a D-Cinelike colour profile for HDR videos and has a maximum video bitrate of 100Mbps along with a micro SD card slot with a capacity of 256GB.
Intelligent features includes multiple autonomous flight modes, hyperlapse feature, 6 Quickshots, automatic return to home and omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system
It’s a fantastic drone with a maximum flight time of 31 minutes, a top speed of 72 kph and a transmission range of 8km.
6. Autel Evo Lite+
One of the newer models in Autel Robotics Evo range, the Evo Lite+ is an extraordinary drone that comes with features that will please photographers. It is one of the lightest drones that comes with a 1-inch sensor, 23mm lens with an adjustable aperture and 85° FOV.
The camera captures 20MP images and comes with an algorithm called moonlight that has been specifically developed for enhancing images captured at night. The camera has multiple photography modes including panorama and HDR imaging and comes with 16× digital zoom.
Videos can be recorded in 6k at 30fps, 4k at 60fps, 2.7k at 60fs and 1080p at 120fps and has a maximum recording speed of 120Mbps and supports recording in H.264/H.265.
The drone also comes with several intelligent flight features including Dynamic Tracking, Quickshots, automatic return to home and a 4-way obstacle avoidance system.
It has a flight time of 40 minutes and a maximum transmission range of 12km and a top speed of 64.8 kph.
7. DJI Air 2
The DJI Air 2 is one the best value for money drones on this list, it comes with most of DJI’s signature features but costs under $800. The camera comes with a 1/2″ sensor that can shoot images in 12MP and panorama photos in 48MP. It has a feature called SmartPhoto that will allow you to capture stunning HDR images with little effort and a feature called Quickshots through which you can record short cinematic videos totally hands-free.
Videos are recorded in 4k at 60fps, 2.7k at 60fps and 1080p at 240fps and has a maximum video bitrate of 120Mbps. The camera can also record 8k time-lapse videos through several autonomous flight modes and has support for HDR videos with its D-Cinelike colour profile.
It has one of the best flight times for a DJI drone at 34 minutes and comes with a 3-way obstacle detection system. This is one of my favourite drones on this list because of its amazing features and reasonable price.
8. DJI Mini 2
Probably the most popular drone under 250g, the Mini 2 is the cheapest drone on this list and is perfect for people who are on a budget. The drone comes equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that has a fixed f/2.8 aperture with an 83°FOV.
The camera can capture 12MP images in RAW and JPEG formats and comes with multiple photography modes including panorama, AEB and burst shooting.
It can record videos in 4k at 30fps, 2.7k at 60fps and 1080p at 60fps and comes with 4× digital zoom.
Intelligent flight features includes 5 Quickshots and low-battery automatic return to home. The Mini 2 has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, a transmission range of 10km and a top speed of 57.6 kph.